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The Renku Sessions: Junicho – call for hokku


Are you all sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin …

I’m Sandra Simpson, and I will serve as your guide as we compose a 12-verse junicho (june-ee-cho, as in choke).

For the first verse – the hokku – poets in the southern hemisphere should offer summer verses and those in the northern hemisphere winter verses.

It is traditional that a renku opens with a verse set in the season of the moment. I am not suggesting that as a group we use a particular sajiki (book of season words) as I would prefer poets to use their own regional season words, wherever your region may be.

I would prefer that the name of the season is not used as a first line, eg:

summer –

A hokku is the only verse in a renku that may be cut and is, to all intents and purposes, a haiku.

A junicho is a bit looser and freer than longer forms of renku so the hokku may be a moon or blossom/flower verse, but it is certainly not obligatory to use either of them.

We are in the jo phase of the poem, which means a polite or mild tone.

All verse positions in this junicho will be degachi, that is competitive, and the final poem will comprise stanzas written by 12 different poets.

As our poem is so short we can approach it in a more leisurely fashion, so I would like to ask poets to submit only 3 candidate verses for each position, rather than using a “shotgun” approach and offering several versions of the same verse, plus others.

I will allow a week between each verse selection so you will have plenty of time to consider your submissions before making them.

To sum up, I am looking for:

  • A 3-line poem
  • A poem that contains a cut
  • A poem that reflects the season you are in (summer/winter)
  • A poem that may be a moon or blossom/flower verse but it causes no problems if it is not so please don’t feel you have to!
  • A poem that is mild/pleasant in tone (jo phase).

Please enter your candidate verses in the Comments section below.

For information about junicho and renku, please refer to the Introduction post.

This Post Has 38 Comments

  1. Hi Sandra. Brave you, taking this on! As I’m sure you’re aware, spring has already begun according to the traditional Japanese calendar. Here in Ireland, spring is also generally regarded as beginning in February, so it would feel a little false for me to compose winter verses to offer for the hokku. Once we’re past the hokku (or the hokku/waki pair depending on how you approach it) we are into the realm of the imagination, so I will be happy join you with offers at that point. Looking forward to watching this renku unfold!

    1. Probably too late… my hocku (published)

      cicada dusk . . .
      pine needles threading me
      the moon

      Carole Harrison

  2. The call for a hokku closes in a couple of hours – time to get those last-minute offers in!

  3. Hi Sandra,

    I’m not sure why, but my offerings did not appear as separate verses when I posted. I will try again with the help of some asterisks.


    frosted field
    the lazy circling
    of red-tailed hawks


    first snow
    our steps weaving
    through the deer tracks


    snow-laced fences
    a horse’s whinny
    from the lopsided barn

  4. for the winter hokku (February as we write):


    bamboo branches
    curved for the new screech-owl box
    first oak blossoms

    Paul MacNeil


    * In N. America, screech owls defend territory and find nests in late winter. Oak trees bloom (to start little acorns!) from March to April, depending upon latitude. This has two kigo, similar season, but I’d consider the oak to be the prime kigo. While the new nest may or may not be chosen, trees reproduce annually.

  5. For the winter (February as we write) hokku:


    snowy field
    long tree-shadows
    at moonrise

    Paul MacNeil

  6. acorn stash-
    a litter of leaves
    jostles the fog

    gator hole
    the heavy slap
    of water colors

    snowbirds gather
    the whooping cranes
    buttress the cowherd

    Hi All! Spending the remaining winter months on the south Texas coast near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge so these are my offerings.

    1. N.B. Alligators undergo periods of dormancy during the cold weather. They dig out a depression called a “gator hole” along the waterways to spend their dormancy in. Saw several as I walked the trails through the refuge to look for whooping cranes that winter over here.

    2. Hi Betty,

      Even though I said the kigo could be from your neck of the woods (wherever that happens to be), I’m going to turn down your “acorn stash -” hokku candidate. “fog” and “leaves” are too associated with autumn for the majority of writers and readers.

      Please don’t be dismayed, I likely wasn’t clear enough. Do feel free to post a replacement so you have three candidates.

      All the best,

      1. Hi Sandra. Admittedly it’s difficult to find a kigo for winter given where I live at the moment. Was trying to use direct observations so maybe something else will provide a more appropriate inspiration. If not, that’s okay too. Just glad to get to participate.

  7. Hi Sandra,
    I’m not sure why my ku ran together. I had put spaces between the verses. I will submit again using stops to make sure there is a gap.

    estuary golf links
    a gaggle of Brant geese
    cover the green
    warblers come
    for bird cake and nuts—
    empty nest
    polishing brasses
    my Grandmother’s words
    move my hands

    I hope this change is ok. I think I have the hang of this now. Thanks Sandra.

  8. Hi Sandra,

    looking forward to your leadership. Here are some offers from under the Alps 🙂
    steam from the mulled wine
    blends with our voices
    powdered snow
    the twitter of long-tailed tits
    between shadows
    snow moon
    rabbit tracks all over
    the apple orchard

  9. g’day Ms Simpson!

    here is a kigo for both hemispheres:

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream…
    the first snowfall
    and two northern kigo:
    waiting for guests
    in the halfopen window
    some ice flowers
    Tortoise Zodiac-
    the moon rose only once
    just in my dream

  10. Good on ya, Sandra, for being the brave one 🙂

    ripening quinces –
    both fruit bats and possums
    on the job

    cooling off –
    our feet in the river
    with the ducks

    moonflowers –
    the scent of Chinese ink
    until sunrise

    – Lorin

  11. .
    My three candidate verses:
    holding the cup warmth
    a scent of spice and holly
    in the robinsong

    n.b. The Robin is a strong British U.K. Christmas (Winter) image adorning millions of Christmas Greeting Cards over the years.
    The leaves are used for colds with fever. They are soaked over night, then briefly boiled, with a threefold effect: the fever goes down, the cough is soothed and mucus is released.


    distant jingle
    everything is mice and men
    through the snow


    a clink of glasses
    Norman Rockwell snow
    holds the front page

  12. g’day Sandra,

    Looking forward to this renku. Thanks for the opportunity.
    Hereto, some Southern Hemisphere summer offers for hokku:


    glistening skin
    another humid day
    in our veggie patch


    slow and gentle
    the flash of fireflies
    gathering at dusk

    alfresco dining
    a cicada plops into
    cold chardonnay


    Peace and Love

    1. Hi Barbara,

      I have inserted stars between the verses and deleted the double posting. I couldn’t work out why the verses weren’t showing correctly so hoped this was a good alternative.

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